Hastings Rock & Fell in Cornwall

It seems some time ago, but is actually only a few weeks, that a club expedition to the West Country set off, heading for the Tower Park campsite near the village of St Buryan, beyond Penzance.

A long but traffic free run saw the tents pitched and a pleasant evening in prospect. A short drive to Sennen Cove, a few minutes walk in and a swift abseil found us contemplating a not too desperate line up the granite cliff. A quick ascent and a short discussion, “ Have we got time for one more?” “Just”. So down the rope and up the rock in short order. By the time we had got sorted out and strolled back to the car it was getting “well” dark.

Next day it was off to Bosigran with a stop for coffee in St Just, except that we were so bright and early that the café was not even open. So on to the car park, where, as on last years trip, we met up with Gary D who was already in Cornwall, spending time in his cliff-top caravan. We set off down the track with the target of Commando Ridge, a well known multi -pitch route. The approach involves a short abseil from the notch in the ridge, followed by a scramble down quite steep rocks and vegetation, hoping that the tide ( we did check this beforehand) and sea state will allow access to the start of the climb. We were in luck and John set off up the first pitch. I have to say that I found this to be wet, black and slippery, not particularly pleasant. Well led John.

The rest of the climb was far more enjoyable with dry rock and secure and spacious stances. On completing the route Gary had to leave us, so a quick lunch and a decision made to try Doorpost( VS 4B) on the Main Face, across on the other side of the great zawn. This features in Classic Rock and is climbed in three fine pitches. The first involves a rightward leading ramp eventually arriving at a good stance. The second pitch, the nominal crux, steps out to the left and goes up a system of cracks to belay in a recess. The technicality concentrates the mind, and the exposure, when you look down, confirms that this is a genuine three star route. The third pitch continues the feeling of verticality, but begins to ease near the top, to a cliff top finish looking out over the blue Atlantic Ocean. What more could you ask?

As many are aware, I like sea cliff climbing and I would certainly recommend this area, even if the rock is reputed to be slightly radioactive. (Glowing in the dark is a good party trick.) Another visit next year perhaps?

Dick

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